How to Bring Milk for Lunch

Two Schoolgirls Sitting at a Table in a Canteen Eating Their Lunch
Two young girls are eating in the cafeteria, with milk cartons on their trays. (Image: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)

Milk is a staple food required on menus by the National School Lunch Act for schools receiving funding as part of their lunch program, notes the Physicians Committe for Responsible Medicine. Additionally, milk is also a popular drink that many children and adults pack in lunchboxes every day. Because milk is perishable, it's important to make sure it's well packed, so it stays cold and fresh until lunchtime.

Nutrition

Milk is a good source of protein, especially for people who are vegetarians or who don't get enough protein in their diets from other sources. Milk is also rich in calcium and provides a fortified source of vitamin D. Organic milk, in particular, is an excellent nutritional choice because it is free of antibiotics, growth hormones and other chemicals added to non-organic milk.

Lunchboxes

Many children and adults enjoy drinking milk for lunch and pack it daily in their lunchboxes. Milk should be kept as cold as possible without freezing to ensure it doesn't spoil. Adding an icepack to a lunchbox and putting the container of milk on top of it will help keep it cold. Pack the lunchbox so the milk is in between the cold pack and other foods, which will help to insulate it. If you include other cold foods like puddings or fruit bowls, pack them around the carton of milk.

Bag Lunches

If you don't have a lunchbox, you can pack milk in a lunch bag. Although it's popular to use brown bags for lunches, if you can supply a reusable, insulated lunch bag, even better. The insulation will help to keep the milk colder longer. Include a small cold pack, or pack the milk between other cold items in the bag, as you would in a lunchbox. Remember to fold over the top of the bag and seal it closed to help keep the milk inside. If you don't have an insulated bag, pack your lunch into several brown lunch bags, one inside of the other, which will provide some insulation.

Powdered

If you work in an office or some place where cold water is available, you can take powdered milk or a protein powder milk shake for lunch. If there's a refrigerator available, even better. Mix your protein powder or powdered milk in a glass or plastic container at your office and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to drink it.

Long-Life Milk Boxes

In certain instances, there's no way to keep milk cold enough from the time you leave your house until lunchtime. For example, if you work on a construction site in the heat of summer, there may not be a place to keep your lunch to ensure your milk won't spoil. In this instance, long-life milk boxes may be your best bet. Ultra-high temperature, or UHT, processing provides a safe way to store milk for extended periods in boxes on grocery shelves or in your kitchen cabinets. The bonus is that milk stored in this manner will remain safe and preserved even if it becomes hot.

Milk Substitutes

Some people love drinking milk but are unable to do so for one reason or another. They may be allergic or suffer from lactose intolerance. In such instances, use a milk substitute such as almond, soy, coconut or rice milk. Many of these substitutes provide protein and other nutrients, but they don't cause the health problems associated with drinking milk. Because milk substitutes are not as perishable as milk, you don't have to worry about keeping them as cold for as long a period. Additionally, all of these milk substitutes are available in long-life boxes, making them an excellent drink choice for lunchtime.

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